County leaders from across Maryland gathered in Talbot County, home of MACo President Laura Price, for the 2022 MACo Board Retreat.
Talbot County hosted the annual Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) Board Retreat at the Tilghman Island Inn on June 8 and 9. Council Member Laura Price currently serves as president of this organization. The MACo president’s home county traditionally hosts the meeting.
In addition to a series of business meetings, board members experienced a guided tour of the county that featured a number of County-owned facilities including the Easton Airport and the St. Michaels Water Treatment Facility. Other highlights included the Tilghman Watermen’s Museum, the Robert Morris Inn, the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry, the Operation Frederick Douglass on the Hill mural, and the Inn at Perry Cabin.
“You have work horses and show horses, and we want our board to see some of both,” said MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson. “It’s important that elected officials learn about the challenges and opportunities in other counties.”
Price agrees. “While MACo balances the leadership equally among large and small counties, rural counties often don’t have the same resources as the larger counties,” she says. “Visiting the host county helps us understand each other better and become better leaders. It also highlights the importance of MACo’s mission and underscores how the organization benefits every county in the state.”
A nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, MACo is the non-partisan voice of all 24 Maryland county jurisdictions, promoting effective, efficient government through advocacy, education, and collaboration. Membership consists of county elected officials and representatives from Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City.
MACo is governed by a 16-member Board of Directors that includes a six-member executive committee. Since 1969, MACo has represented all 24 political subdivisions of the state of Maryland. Price assumed the top leadership position in December at the group’s winter meeting.
In addition to Price, those attending included MACo Officers Calvin Ball, Howard County Executive; Johnny Olszewski, Baltimore County Executive; Jack Wilson, Queen Anne’s County Council Member; MC Keegan-Ayer, Frederick County Council President; and Wilbur Levengood, Caroline County Council Member.
Other board members included Randy Guy, President, Commissioners of St. Mary’s County; Sharon Green Middleton, Baltimore City Council Vice President; Steuart Pittman, Anne Arundel County Executive; Steve Wantz, Carroll County Commissioner; and Lenny Pfeffer, Dorchester County Council Member.
Price chose the Tilghman Island Inn as the host hotel. With beautiful Knapps Narrows as a backdrop for their meetings, the elected officials were able to watch the workboats go in and out of the harbor as they discussed county governance issues. “I wanted to showcase Tilghman Island as the hidden gem that it is for growing tourism and economic development,” Price says.
In addition to their tour of Talbot County, MACo board members enjoyed sessions on affordable housing, traffic safety, and education. On Wednesday, the welcomed guest speakers to present on the Vision Zero approach to ending traffic-related fatalities and serious road-related injuries. On Thursday, they discussed affordable housing challenges and opportunities, along with conversation on emergency rental assistance programs and pre-emptive legislation on changes to local zoning allowing accessory dwelling units by right.
The final session was on the Blueprint Accountability Implementation Board with Executive Director Rachel Hise and Jennifer Lynch, Baltimore County’s Director of Educational Partnerships. They gave the board updates on the early workings of the state-level oversight board guiding Kirwan blueprint planning. The presentation included the framework for state accountability and opportunities for county government contributions and participation.
The Maryland Association of Counties Summer Conference will be held August 17-20 in Ocean City, MD. Sessions and meetings for the 3,000+ participants will focus on building up businesses and economic development in the wake of the pandemic.